The EU is looking to exert greater control over online messaging tools such as WhatsApp and Skype. Documents seen by the Financial Times suggest that Brussels wants to treat such services more like traditional telecoms companies.
The proposals come amid mounting privacy concerns about data handling, particularly the “security and confidentiality provisions” from companies like Microsoft and Facebook.
An overhaul of telecom rules is due to be published in September, and the new rules would require messaging firms to comply with additional EU regulation. Until now online messaging tools have been treated differently to telecoms firms, but Europe is keen to tie up loose ends and group them both together.
The Financial Times reports that telecoms companies such as Orange and Telefónica have long been unhappy at the lack of regulation that applies to Google, Facebook and Microsoft when it comes to communication. The explosive growth of WhatsApp and apps of its ilk means that increasing numbers of people are using these text and voice services in place of traditional mobile phone communication methods, and mobile firms feel that it is only fair that the same rules be applied to these apps.
While France is expected to vote in favor of forcing companies with online messaging services to register as telecoms companies, the UK has indicated that it is opposed to further red tape.
One of the side effects of being forced to comply with additional EU regulation is that online messaging tools that include the option to call phone numbers could be required to provide access to emergency services numbers as well.